Yesterday, the Akron Beacon Journal reported that Carroll County, Ohio is the first county in the Buckeye State to host 100 Utica Shale wells. That’s an important milestone for the County, and Ohio, but what’s more important is that this activity helped put a lot of Carroll County families back to work.
In fact, oil and natural gas development has helped the County halve its unemployment rate over the past two years. In 2010, the small county of just over 28,000 people had a 16% unemployment rate. Days we’re dreary and just about everyone knew someone out of work. Now, just two years later, the County has a 7% unemployment rate—well below both the Ohio and national average. The new oil and gas activity and decreasing jobless rate have advanced almost simultaneously. If the patterns aren’t aligned, they certainly appear to be correlated.
You don’t have to look too far to see the positive impacts of oil and gas activity in the County. The roads are a bit more crowded and the county seat of Carrollton has been bustling with increased activity. By and large, the industry’s arrival has been seen as a positive, much-needed, development. Glenn Enslen, the County’s economic development director, summed up the situation in an interview earlier this year.
“Appalachia has been the forgotten part of Ohio for the last 50 years, and so, all of a sudden, we’re in the forefront of economic development in the State of Ohio. We’ve seen a huge impact from the oil and gas business.” –Glenn Enslen, Economic Development Director, Carroll County
Just a few examples of new companies moving into the area include Select Energy Services, MRC, and BTI Oilfield Services who combined have provided roughly 270 jobs. Of course, there’s also Stallion Oilfield Services who also hired over 100 new employees. Mark Wimsatt of Stallion sees no signs of a slowdown and plenty of additional opportunities ahead.
Employment opportunities don’t end with oil and oilfield services companies however as these benefits are being shared throughout many sectors of Carroll County’s economy. Local car dealerships, for example, are seeing a brighter, more comfortable future just a few short years after seeing sales plummet after major American car companies filed for bankruptcy protection.
John Furey, owner of Furey Chrysler Dodge Jeep in Malvern, provided a succinct remark of how the new opportunities has helped his business, and others.
“Things have changed dramatically. They have nationally for the car business, for everybody, but specifically for Carroll County and the surrounding counties because of the gas and oil industry. We see tremendous opportunity that we never saw before.”
The benefits don’t end in the private sector. In addition to taxes paid, Utica Shale development has provided $1.1 million directly to Carroll County during some pretty challenging times when the County had difficulties making ends meet.
It’s worth mentioning that as all of this development occurred without a single environmental issue according to a review by the Youngstown Vindicator earlier this year
No matter how you slice it, it all boils down to something inanely human in the end. As summer draws down, back to school shopping will likely ago a bit easier this year as many Carroll County families have new hope and economic opportunity that seemed unlikely just a few short years ago.